India is set to add another aircraft carrier to its fleet worth 400 billion rupees as it seeks to counter the presence of the People’s Republic of China in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), people familiar with the matter said.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the country’s top defence decision-making body headed by the Defence Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, is expected to clear the acquisition of its second indigenous aircraft carrier on November 25, 2023, people with direct knowledge of the development said, asking not to be named as because the discussions were highly confidential and private.
Capabilities of the Aircraft Carrier
The new carrier, which can hold at least 28 fighter jets and helicopters, displaces 45,000 tons of water- a measure of size for ships that will be flying the Rafale-M Jets, the people said. The INS Vikrant joined the fleet last year and was made by a popular Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) Cochin Shipyard Limited. India also has a Russian aircraft carrier called INS Vikramaditya.
About 90 per cent of the hull, 50 per cent of the machinery and 30 per cent of the weapons and sensors of INS Vikrant are indigenously designed and built. It has been designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house Warship Design Bureau (WDB) and built by Cochin Shipyard Limited, a public sector shipyard under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways. Vikrant has been built with state-of-the-art automation features and is the largest ship ever built in the maritime history of India.
Chinese Presence in IOR
A Three-Carrier Battle Group will be a show of strength for the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) at a time when the naval combat arm of the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), one of the largest navies in the world with 370 ships and submarines is increasingly marking its presence in the region. An enlarged fleet also gives India the ability to exert influence in the sea by being present at many faraway places continuously, the people said. However, the representatives of the Defence Ministry and Indian Navy declined to comment.
Militarisation of the IOR
The Indian Ocean is heavily militarized, with as many as 125 naval vessels, including those from the United States of America (USA), France, and Japan, roaming its waters at any given time, roughly three times the number of vessels deployed in the wake of September 11, terrorist attacks when the US attacked Kabul. The waters have not yet seen competition since World War II as both China and the US have, and its allies have deployed more warships in the area. That is why the South Asian nation (India) also raised its game.
Current Situation of the Indian Navy
India plans to have 160 warships by 2030 and 175 by 2035 at an estimated cost of two trillion rupees, according to people familiar with the matter. More than 60 vessels of the Indian Navy are currently under various stages of construction, they added. The country is carrying out more warship patrols than ever before amid growing concerns over China’s rising naval prowess and power.
India has also upgraded the runway facilities at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, allowing aircraft to land at night, people said. That is the bid to keep a tighter watch over the narrow water straits of Malacca, Sunda, and Lombok in the southern Indian Ocean Region. The island chain is used by India and its partners for maritime surveillance